Review: Dream Life

by Kim on January 26, 2010 · 16 comments

Post image for Review: Dream Life

Title: Dream Life
Author:
Lauren Mechling
Genre:
YA Fiction
Year:
2010
Acquired: Free from the author/publisher for review
Rating: ★★★½☆

One Sentence Summary: Still learning to use her psychic powers, Claire Voyant finds herself wrapped up in secret societies and good deeds while still working to survive high school and figure out the problems with her problematic crush.

One Sentence Review: Mechling’s second book about Claire improves on the problems with the first, creating a readable story with convincing high school drama and even more time with a cast of excellent background characters.

Long Review: Dream Life starts out just where the series’ previous book, Dream Girl, leaves off. But if you haven’t read the first book, that’s ok, Dream Life starts out by getting everyone caught up: fifteen-year-old Claire Voyant has some secret powers — psychic dreams, to be exact — that she uses with the mysterious guidance of her high society grandmother, Kiki.

After helping out her best friend Becca’s family, Claire’s life seems to be improving. That is, until her secret crush Andy (Becca’s brother) puts a hold on their budding romance and Becca starts to become distant again. Soon, Claire finds herself part of a New York secret society where her powers will be put to good use trying to stop a developer from taking over some of the city’s favorite landmarks.

Since I read this book so close to reading the first in the series, it’s hard not to compare them. I was happy that this book addressed some of my concerns of the first book — a confused plot and lack of development for minor characters. The plot is a mystery, so can be mysterious (ha ha), but the resolution of this book was much more effective. And in this book, Claire’s classmates and other friends get some more page time, and they’re all delightful. The book is well-populated with people that have personality. Overall, Dream Life is a stronger book — good job to the author for that!

As I mentioned in a different post, one of the highlights of this book for me was the potential romance between Claire and Andy. Near the beginning, it seems like things are going well for the pair. But Andy inexplicably pulls back, leaving Claire with a series of mixed messages throughout the story. Every scene with the two of them felt real, and, I have to admit, gave me a few heart flutters because it was so close to what I remember my first high school romance being like.

There are certainly reasons that this sort of romance resonated so well with me. On a scale of Pollyanna to Blair Waldorf, my high school life feel blissfully close to Anne of Green Gables. Certainly, it wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t all angst and drama either. YA books that deal with sex and drugs and drama always feel forced to me, as if an author was just trying to write what he/she thinks being in high school is all about. And for me, that just wasn’t it.

Yes, Claire has pyschic dreams. Yes, she’s in a secret society with some of New York City’s richest young socialites. And yes, the society takes on an evil developer so greedy it’s almost comical. But at it’s core, Dream Life is about fitting in, finding your place, and being true to who you are while trying to make other people see that too. That resonates with me, and the way Claire solves these problems should resonate with any teenager even remotely as goody two-shoes as I was.

If you’re interested in reading this book, Lauren (the author) mentioned that it’s hard to find in local bookstores right now. Your best bet is to get is via Amazon, or ask your local bookseller to order you a copy.

Other Reviews: Presenting Lenore | Devourer of Books | Mrs. Magoo Reads | Carrie’s YA Bookshelf |

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Julia Smith January 26, 2010 at 10:33 am

Another gorgeous cover – Lauren Mechling really lucked out! I was also a teenage square – and proud of it. I’ve never been into jaded teens, even when I was that age.

I just discovered that the BIP is on for 2010! *high five* I SO enjoyed it last year.

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Kim January 26, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Julia: She did luck out on covers, they are both beautiful! I was so glad Jackie volunteered to help keep the BIP going — I was bummed I didn’t think I had the time to continue. I’m glad you’ll be joining again!

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Jenny January 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm

This book looks fun – and as Julia says, what a great cover!

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Kim January 26, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Jenny: It is fun — I love the butterflies, although for the life of me I can’t remember what they’re from.

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Kathy January 26, 2010 at 1:25 pm

It sounds like this series has a good message.

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Kim January 26, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Kathy: Yeah, I think it does. Claire’s choices near the end of the book made me proud of her, which is a good sign.

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Louise January 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm

This sounds like a fun book. I have a lot of unread YA on my TBR, but am always curious to try new to me authors and books. Will look for this and the first one :)

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Kim January 26, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Louise: Awesome, I hope you find them. I read both pretty quickly, which I liked too.

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Sheila (Bookjourney) January 26, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Fantastic review – love the one sentence summary. I liked the book before I read your review – now I like it more. Thanks!

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Kim January 31, 2010 at 10:27 am

Sheila: Thanks! I like doing the short summary too, although it can be really hard!

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Lisa January 26, 2010 at 6:50 pm

These sound like books I’d like my high-school daughter to read. I don’t mind her reading the books that deal with darker subject matter (that is a part of life at her school) but there’s no need for it to feel like that’s the only thing out there.

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Kim January 31, 2010 at 10:27 am

Lisa: Exactly. I don’t mean to say kids should avoid some of that darker stuff, just that they should know that’s not the only kind of high school experience there is.

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Jodie January 27, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I do want to try this series, but apprehensive about starting with possibly the weaker one as the first in the series. The cover for this one is almost winning me over though and I want to see how this pulling back in romance works out…

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Kim January 31, 2010 at 10:35 am

Jodie: I don’t think the first is so much weaker that it wouldn’t make you want to read more of the series — it’s a good book, this one is just a little bit better. But the both seem to stand on their own, so if you read them out of order the only thing that would be spoiled is the result of the mystery in the first book.

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Jennifer February 10, 2010 at 9:31 pm

I’m really interested in these books. They sounds like a really well-written, well-rounded books that definitely capture a more realistic high school experience. I’ll definitely look into finding them.

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Kim February 12, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Jennifer: I should have used your comment as the one sentence summary; that’s it exactly :)

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